|The battle lines have been drawn in North London as this Sunday sees the first of two clashes between Arsenal and Tottenham in the space of the next month.
Later in December, these arch rivals will square off in the Carabao Cup Quarter-finals, but this weekend the stakes are arguably much higher.
That is because it is Premier League points that are on offer with Unai Emery’s men looking to not only extend their unbeaten run which has been in place since August, but also they will look to leapfrog ahead of Tottenham in the table.
The Gunners go into this clash sitting three points behind Spurs, but safe in the knowledge that a win in front of their own fans would see them move ahead of Mauricio Pochettino’s men by virtue of goal difference.
That might be easier said than done though as Tottenham will come into this fixture with their tails up after making incredibly light work of crosstown rivals Chelsea last weekend, a win that sees them start the weekend lying third in the table.
And that is a position that they would like to solidify as they stay on the fringes of this season’s title race, and they cannot afford to cede any further ground to Manchester City and Liverpool if they want to be considered bona fide contenders.
Their hopes of success have been given a real shot in the arm after that win over Chelsea, it was a performance where Tottenham were on top from minute one. A point that was reinforced when Dele Alli opened the scoring early on.
The England international was only a substitute in England’s recent win over Croatia in the Nations League, but he showed any doubters why he should be in the starting eleven after a very impressive performance over Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Arsenal also ended up on top last weekend but admittedly their win was not as impressive. At the same time though that win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium is the kind of game that they would have struggled with last season under former manager Arsene Wenger.
Unai Emery’s men are of a different ilk and although they needed a large slice of fortune after Jefferson Lerma’s bizarre own goal gave them the lead, it is fair to say that they were good value for all three points in the end.
Arsenal were given a recent test at home to Liverpool recently, one that saw earn a creditable draw against the team that are currently second in the table and this weekend will provide a measure of just what the red half of North London can do this season.
Last year at this ground, Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners in a particularly one sided performance. However, in the grand scheme of things it counted for very little as the limped to a sixth place finish in the Premier League.
These two outfits are two of the Premier League form teams going into the clash, so something will have to give. At the same time, the form book does have a habit of going out the window in clashes such as this. If it ends in a draw then Tottenham will be the happier of the two sides come full time.